Panzanella is one of my favorite summer salads. It’s the perfect way to use up day-old bread and it has all the ripeness of summer with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil. The bread soaks up the red wine vinaigrette dressing and the briny capers add the perfect punch. Panzanella doesn’t normally have fresh mozzarella in it but I couldn’t resist. This classic Tuscan bread salad is an ideal meal to make when the dog days of summer roll around. It’s also perfect to bring over to your friends for dinner because the salad needs to soak in the dressing for 30 minutes before you eat.
- For the Salad:
- 1 loaf of French bread cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 Tbls. Olive oil
tsp. salt and pepper
- 4-5 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cucumber, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into ½ inch cubes
- ½ cup red onion, sliced
- 1 fresh mozzarella ball, cut into bite-sized pieces
- ¼ cup capers, drained and chopped
- 1 handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
- For the Vinaigrette:
tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 Tbls. Red wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ½ cup olive oil
tsp. kosher salt
tsp. ground black pepper
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat Add bread cubes and salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat the bread with oil, then fry over medium low heat until the bread is crunchy and golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Put the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, red onion, mozzarella, and capers in a large serving bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.
- In a separate small bowl, combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette and whisk together.
- Add the bread to the vegetables and toss to combine.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss.
- Let the salad sit for at least a half hour to allow the flavors to absorb into the bread, stirring a few times to make sure the bread gets evenly soaked. Add the basil, stir to combine, then serve.